Check out the top 3 Wishlisted resources on SUnshine and Lollipops...the Cyber Sale has started so run over to the blog and check them out and then scoop them up...Don't be left out in the it is cold out there...warm up with thei great sale!!

I am so excited about the TpT Cyber Sale. I mean isn't it the sale y'all have been waiting for?  I know I have! It seems like ages since we have had a sale like this...and YES I can't wait and it is starting in 29 minutes from right now!!! YOU can get 28% off your purchases by using CYBER2016 at check out.  In order to help you make some selections, I have teamed up with a few of my colleagues to showcase some of our top 3 wishlisted resources...So ready, set, they are...Happy shopping and don't forget to use that promo code!

  • First 100 Sight Words (FRY):  this resource was created to be used in a booklet or individually. It is great for differentiation in that you can pull the pages that each child needs to work on and staple then to be used as reinforcement for Homework or differentiated Word Work Stations or even as an intervention. It can even be used as Morning Work or for fluency reading sight word sentences. However you decide to use this fabulous kiddos will enjoy it.  Each word is written in a form to encourage coloring the word, tracing and then writing free hand by the student. Then the student colors the boxes that contain the designated word, reads, traces and copies a sentence using best handwriting, draws a picture that shows understanding of the sentence, which will show understanding. it seems like a lot, but i can sure tell you ONE thing, your students will know the word after completing this page...ENJOY!  Oh and did I mention this is top seller? Check it out here!

  • Stop that Blurting and Calling Out:  I LOVE this resource... you could say it is one of my all time favorites. Many of my colleagues have used it and found it very successful for their classrooms. It can be used alone or with any book that discusses calling out. Included are role playing cards, strategy cards and differentiated response sheets.  This is also a top seller and all that have used this resource have been extremely pleased.  Take a look.
  • Kindergarten Readiness Skill: These are print and go resources aligned with Common Core Kindergarten skills, which includes matching pictures to beginning consonant sounds, sorting pictures according to beginning sounds, matching and sorting pictures to beginning L,R and S blends and matching and sorting pictures to beginning digraphs including words ending in ck. These sheets can be used as an informal assessment, reinforcement of a particular skill, as a center, for homework or as an intervention and let's not forget about RTI and ELL. YES...this is another top seller and is ready to print and use as mentioned above!!Here you go!
These are just 3 of the 200+ resources I have on my TpT's shop Sunshine and Lollipops!

You can check out all the other TpTers Top 3 wishlisted resources HERE

In today's fast paced world of quick meals before practices and quick breakfasts before the bus comes and quick...lets get up and get moving before we're late, there is not much room for children to ease into their day and notice the beauty around them.

If they are running late Mom or Dad is dressing them in their practice uniform while they are eating or while they are eating an adult might be helping them tie their shoes or get their socks on so they will not be late for whatever the activity for the morning, afternoon or evening is that day!

Believe me...I was right there with this when my 3, now adult children, were little and involved in so many many, in fact, that I look back on those days and wonder how I did all of it with a traveling husband and really not much support to get them back and forth to cheerleading, football, dance, play rehearsals, violin, viola and piano lessons, field hockey practice, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, Brownies, singing lessons and who knows what else!!

Although "our world" was not as "techie" as today, we did have Pac-Man, Froggy and some other types of "computer"games to beg our kids to STOP playing them!

So where am I going with this?  Well, as teachers, we must realize what our families and little ones are up against in this fast-paced world so that when they come to school, they feel safe, calm and can feel like they are in a world that is nurturing and relaxed. A world were they do not have to feel stressed or overwhelmed, but can be their best selves.

So here are a few tips that you can put into place immediately that will give your kiddos a relaxed haven.

As teachers teaching during holiday seasons, you might want to incorporate some of these ideas on Monday or right after Winter Break when the students have been away from school for a week plus and now...well...let's just say many of your students may have forgotten many or ALL of the classroom routines and have been away from the classroom structure.

So, try some of these tips...oh and did I mention that these are tried and true...I have used these for over 20+ years in my classroom and now that I am retired and volunteer in my daughter's SpEd Kindergarten classroom, we use these ideas in her classroom, too!

1.  As Students come into the classroom, greet them at the door to make them feel special and 
     relaxed. If children feel good about themselves, they will be calmer and ready to learn.

2.  Play soft classical music.  You will be surprised at the calmness it brings and how parents
     notice this calming music, which they always had a positive comment to share about the music
     playing as the children entered the classroom. I always enjoyed hearing children humming the
     music as they unpacked and got ready for the day! They were relaxed and learning about music
     and what feelings it evoked.Some classical musicians who have calming genres are:
     Brahms, Wagner, Pachelbel, Handel, Chopin and Bach to name a few, but I would suggest
     listening to the works before just hitting "play." Here is a site that has some calming classical
     pieces you can check out!  Relaxing Music for your Classroom This is a sample of music that
     promotes calm. It plays a medley of different classical composers and can be set on your

3.  Many teachers give their students morning work to complete, which is fine.  However what I have
     done over the years is given students a "soft landing" time. During this time, the kiddos can chat
     calmly, buddy read, read to self, work on an activity that needs to be finished, pick a morning
     work sheet to complete, buddy write or complete their classroom job, which are jobs that helped
     our classroom be organized (attendance, calendar, lunch count etc.).

4.  Our schedule was not very conducive to calmness as within 15 minutes of arrival time,
     our special teachers were in our classrooms ready to start their lesson.
     As a result, we had to have our Morning Meeting after special time. In order to address this issue      and create a calmness before the kiddos jumped into working with the special teachers, we would        gather on the rug and "Pass a Smile." This only took a few minutes and supported a calm feeling
     before the children got to work.

5.  Add a daily "Quiet Time" to your schedule. Schedule 5-10 minutes after your recess or at a time
     you notice your class seems to need a break. During this time the children listen to calm music
     and can do any activity within your rule expectations independently and alone.  Some ideas are:          Relax and listen to the music, read, color, draw, write, catch up on work, anything that is quiet
      and can be completed alone.  This time is a time to relax and refocus for the rest of the day

6.  Add brain breaks into your day to support children to refocus and be relaxed and ready to move        on with their day. Some ideas for Brain Breaks can be found at:
     Brain Breaks TpT .  The ideas in this resource are ones I        have used through the years before the buzzword Brain
     Breaks was popular!

Just had to add one more... Kids Yoga: ABC's of Yoga with Theresa Power This video is great because Theresa introduces yoga through easy standing poses which can easily be completed at home or school. She has a soothing voice and it is only a 5 minute video!

I hope you find these ideas helpful They are ALL tried and true and have helped hundreds of children stay calm in our hectic world.

I will leave you with this one thought: During those calm and quiet moments we give ourselves time to think and understand; come up with ideas to inspire others; become our best selves and are ready to learn what the world has to offer.

Enjoy the rest of your year!

As I watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning...rising at the crack of dawn, which I have not done since I was retired...I am reminded of how many years my family has attended this parade and how it has become and important family tradition. We have made it there for many years and the first parade we ever attended was with an old friend Jackie. I can still see my son, Sean, at 20 months old, with his red, blue and yellow jacket and a big bird hat on his head.  He was ecstatic as Santa and Santa's reindeer came excited as the postal carriers walked among the crowd with their bags and children tossed their letters to Santa into the bags.

This year I am reminded of all the blessings I have in my life and so thankful to be able to experience this parade with my children and grandchildren who are so enthusiastic as each blow-up, marching band, Eagles Cheerleaders with the drum brigade pass by....but my most favorite part is and will always be when Santa rides by in his sleigh with Mrs. Claus.  Just watching as the eyes of those who believe light up with the wonderment and magic of the season makes my heart full of joy and love.  Seeing them jump up and down with excitement reminds me of the innocence of children and I say to myself, "We must never stop believing and perhaps we should live life through the eyes of a child...with that being said....May you always believe in the magic of the season. May you always know that you are blessed in many ways and may you be thankful for all you have. I am thankful for all of YOU! Happy Thanksgiving!!!  Remember:

Parent Conferences, Data, Report Cards...OH NO!  OH YES!  8 SWEET Tips to have the BEST Conferences Yet!! If you follow these SWEET tips, your conferences will so as smooth as icing a cake...well even icing a cake can be a little lumpy...let's just say these tips will help your parent/teacher conferences go as smooth as possible. i KNOW you will love #4 and you are probably already doing #2! Here's to some fabulous conference this year! is that time of year know the time when eager parents want to see how their children are progressing in school.  Now..I have over 30 years experience with parent conferences as a teacher not to mention the ones I have attended as a parent and I would be lying if I said," Oh all my conferences were as sweet as sour spots here! You just tell the parents how their little cherubs are doing and that's that...WRONG!"  Having a great Teacher/Parent conference takes a little more than that, but if you follow a few of these easy sweet steps, which I am sure some of you are already doing or at least thinking about, your conferences will go down in the books as the BEST EVER...well maybe I am exaggerating a little bit...let's just say you won't go home crying your eyes out like I did my first year even though I was told I did a fabulous job with a very difficult parent...the stress was so high before, during and after this least it was my last one for the night....that I got home, ran upstairs and literally cried my eyes out and then picked myself up, wiped my tears and started all over the next day. That's the teacher spirit! (I may have to write a blog abut my most memorable conferences sometime soon...30 years encourages many, many interesting conference stories to say the least!)

So here are a few tips that can be easily incorporated into your already fabulous conference ideas:

1. Be Prepared and remember parents are only concerned about their child.  You may have
15-30 or more students in your class, but the only child who is the most important to them is THEIR child.  So make sure you take a few minutes to jot down some positives and some areas with which the child needs to work. You can certainly make up your own frame, but here is one I have used to help me have some notes on hand to glance at as needed. Have all data ready to go to show baselines, progress, reading levels and whatever else is important to you as a teacher and your district guidelines.  I also send a reflection sheet home prior to conferences so parents can jot down what they may want to chat about. They return it to school and then you can use this as a guide and be proactive during your conference.

PS.  Have as conference schedule hanging outside your door, chairs for waiting, class books to browse as parents wait, lots of KID work displayed outside your classroom. Inside the classroom, have a BIG bowl of candy, some Sticky Notes for you and anyone else who might need to take notes, a duplicate schedule with phone numbers and times as well as a file with everything in conference order.        

2. Always start the conversation with an enthusiastic handshake and "It is so great to see you again!" or "Oh my Johnny looks just like you!"  Something positive to encourage light conversation. Eye contact and a welcoming phrase will make everyone feel more comfortable and add a little SUNSHINE to the opening greeting.

3.  Start the conference on a positive note.  A compliment about their child, a cute story jotted down the other day in your notes as it was happening....anything you can think of....."Mia was so helpful the other day when Julia fell on the playground......."

4.  Another Tip for adding a bit of positivity:  For about 25 years or so, I have always started my
conferences with a self-reflection sheet either written or in Kindergarten dictated depending on the student's level along with a self-portrait. This has been extremely successful over the years.  First, parent LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see their children's portraits and when they read the self-evaluation about what their best
work is in school and what they think they might need to do better, they are right on and funny to boot. I have the students use kid writing and then edit on a sticky as needed so we can read them together...we always have a blast with this!

5. Have a portfolio of student work ready to show as you are going through strengths and weaknesses so parents can see first hand and understand what you mean.  I always had these ready to share right under the self-evaluation sheet so I was able to pull them out and then "show and tell" starting with the strengths so when you get to some "areas of concern," the parents know you are positive, like their child and are working to support and help them.  I will never forget a conference I attended as a support for a parent and when I asked, "Can you tell us something positive about Lilly...we know she is social and has a great imagination, but what about her academic strengths?" and the teacher replied...and I kid you not..."What do you mean?" So, then I began to chat about the positives and strengths I noticed in her work...."  I wasn't even the teacher...I was along for the ride.  You can imagine the conversation in the car on the way home...this goes back to the old Girl Scout Rule:  BE PREPARED!

6.  Think of positive ways to say something that might be a bit negative...this does not mean to SUGAR COAT!!  You need to be honest with parents. They deserve the truth about their child even if the truth is difficult to express. Just think of a positive way to say it!  For example:  Instead of saying Johnny is running all over the classroom, interrupting his classmates and will not stop.  He is always in might say:  Johnny enjoys movement in and around the classroom.  He loves to visit and chat with his classmates. We are working with Johnny to understand when is the best time or appropriate time in our schedule to socialize with his classmates. You are basically saying the same thing, but in a more positive way.

7.  Ask what the parents are seeing at home so you can understand their situation a bit more. Sometimes parents will share something that is going on at home that may explain some of the actions or behaviors you are seeing at school. Parents are busy, too and sometimes their own personal lives are filled with ups and downs that they may have simply forgot to mention!  I am sure that if you see behaviors that are unusual from a child, you will call the parent, but perhaps this just started to surface a day ago and your antennae are posed and ready to zoom in.  You can learn so much from giving a listening ear to a parent or guardian.

8.  Send parents home with a list or checklist of what they can do to support their child at home.  You can have a generic form or a checklist where you simply think of each child and check off what parents might need to do at home to support their child.

End on a positive 
note:  "I am so glad that we were able to chat about Johnny's progress today! I am thrilled he is in my class this year! He makes me smile everyday!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns OR I will contact you in a few days to let you know the results of ...OR to share how things are going..." SMILE, SMILE, SMILE...NEXT PLEASE! Here's to some SWEET, Fabulous Parent Conferences...Let's Go!!!

Free Sample of Some of the Conference Sheets
mentioned above. ENJOY!

A  complete parent teacher communication resource for your convenience with forms that you can use all year long.